Exclusive: Canal+ picks up HBO’s ‘Our Boys’ amid Netanyahu’s calls for Keshet boycott

Our Boys

France’s Canal+ has picked up HBO and Keshet Studios’ limited series Our Boys amid calls from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to boycott Keshet’s Channel 12 over the drama.   

Keshet International has sold the 10-part drama – which is produced by Keshet Studios and HBO and premiered on the AT&T-owned cable channel in the US on 12 August – into the French pay-TV operator, which will soon air the show. The distributor previously pre-sold the series into HBO Europe in Spain, Portugal, Nordic, Baltics and CEE; HBO Latin America for the Caribbean and LatAm; and Israel’s Hot, Yes, Cellcom TV and Partner TV.

Filmed in Israel and created by Hagai Levi, Joseph Cedar and Tawfik Abu-Wael, Our Boys is based on the events that led to the outbreak of war in Gaza in 2014, which was prompted by the murders of three Jewish youth by Palestinian militant group Hamas. Palestinian youth Muhammad Abu Khdeir was later murdered in retaliation, sparking a seven-week-long conflict between Israel and Palestine.

The drama centres on the investigation of Abu Khdeir’s murder, and tells the stories of both the Jews and Arabs affected by the series of events.

On Friday (30 August), Netanyahu took to Facebook to blast the Keshet-produced drama, which he labelled as propaganda that “besmirches the good name of Israel”, taking issue with the show’s focus on the murder of Abu Khdeir against only a “few minutes of cold archival footage” of the Jewish murders.

He called on Israeli audiences to boycott Keshet’s Channel 12 in protest of the show, despite the fact that Our Boys does not air on the free-to-air channel.

Netanyahu has a checkered history with Channel 12, which has been covering criminal cases that allegedly involve the PM.

On Saturday (31 August), the official accused Keshet boss Avi Nir, Keshet news exec Avi Weiss and Keshet shareholders Yitzhak Tshuva and Drorit Wertheim of a “terror attack against democracy” by continuing to cover leaks of corruption investigations against him. Last week, a request by Netanyahu’s Likud Party to prevent the broadcaster from airing further leaks ahead of Israel’s 17 September election was rejected by the Central Elections Committee.

Despite the PM’s calls for a boycott, Keshet has not tumbled in viewership, instead topping weekly ratings with MasterChef, Israel’s Ninja Warrior and Keshet News – the latter of which has actually climbed in ratings against broadcast rival Reshet.

Our Boys is co-produced by Keshet Studios and HBO and produced by Movie Plus. Executive producers include Hagai Levi, Joseph Cedar, Avi Nir (Keshet Media Group), Alon Shtruzman (Keshet International), Karni Ziv (Keshet Broadcasting), Peter Traugott and Rachel Kaplan (Keshet Studios), Noah Stollman and Michael Lombardo.

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